Broaden your horizon

Friday, 23 May 2014 - 8:20am IST | Place: Mumbai | Agency: DNA
On the occasion of World Day for Cultural Diversity
 for Dialogue and Development on 21 May, we talk to Westcoast residents on how learning new languages can open new doors and perspectives

Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime. Teach a man a foreign language and you make him a man of the world! “Many assume that knowledge of a foreign language is a fashion statement, but they could not be more wrong,” says Avishek Mehta, a resident of Kandivali West, who has just started learning Mandarin Chinese. “Of course, interacting with people of different nationalities, translation and interpretation do help people on both sides of the table, but there is much more that a new language can do. It makes you think and feel differently. It creates a global compassion of sorts,” says Mehta.

Indians with knowledge of foreign languages, especially European languages like Spanish, French and German, are being recruited by renowned multi-national companies like Google, Cap Gemini, Yahoo and Deloitte, to name a few. Vishaka Joshi, French tutor, says, “India plays a big role in French companies. Currently, the largest French employer in India, Cap Gemini, has more than 40,000 employees in India.”

“The present generation has realised the importance of knowing a foreign language,” says Jagrit Kaur Plaha, Spanish language expert and the deputy branch manager of Instituto Hispania, Santacruz West.

“Spanish being the second most widely spoken language, next to English, has attracted a lot of talent from India, as South American countries are keen to do business with India. Indians, who work in Spain or South America, learn Spanish and go on to live there for several years,” she says. Dinesh Govindani, Spanish tutor with Academia Espanol, Andheri West, says, “Knowledge of any foreign language will add value to the country, its businesses and improve foreign relations.”

Govindani also points out, “Healthcare is booming across the world. When an Indian doctor applies for a job in Europe, the basic criterion that hospitals look for is whether he or she can speak the language of that country. Unless the doctor can communicate in a language that the patient understands, he will not be able to help the patient.” Another interesting trend that Govindani drew our attention to is that of Bollywood actors being keen to learn foreign languages. Currently, the focus is Spanish, as Indian actors are getting many offers from Latin American countries. Govindani adds, “Also, several Indian religious texts have been and continue to be translated into different foreign languages. People across the world are drawn towards the Bhagvad Gita and the Vedas. There are several language specialists who are working in tandem to get the sacred texts translated in different languages. This has led to the dissemination of Indian religion, arts and culture.”  

Knowledge of new languages opens doors for newer and better perspectives, thereby creating peace and harmony, which are the need of the hour.


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